ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is struggling to provide water to rice paddies in Southern Sri Lanka at the tail end of the Yala minor cultivation season amid low water levels in a key reservoirs, officials said.
The Samanalawewa reservoir is a key source of power for the Southern provincial grid, which has transmission bottlenecks to transmit energy from other areas.
Rice farmers Fed by reservoirs in the South including Uda Walawe and Samanalawera reservoirs are facing water shortages.
“Due to the need to generate power, we have been informed that water cannot be released from the Samanalawewa reservoir,” Agriculture Secretary Gunadasa Amarasinghe told Sri Lanka’s Hiru Television.
“We are hoping to get water from tanks in the Velioya scheme to Walawe river and give the water to the farmers.”
According to Mahaweli Authority data storage in Samanalawewa Reservoir was down to 12.4 percent, and Uda Walawe down to 2.9 percent.
Power cuts of at least three hours may have to be imposed on the Southern grid if water was released according to some reports.
Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told reporters that only two rounds of water releases involving about a week was required for the rice paddies.
Reports said the authorities had decided to prioritize electricity and compensate farmers if necessary.
The South West monsoons this year have been weak, according to officials. Reservoirs in several districts are below last year.
A 300Megawatt coal power plant, is also under scheduled maintainance after a delay. (Colombo/Aug02/2023)